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Work Uncertainties and Futures in the Regions: Implications for Jobs, Work and Employment


Fairbrother, P and Denham, T, Work Uncertainties and Futures in the Regions: Implications for Jobs, Work and Employment, Centre for People, Organisation & Work + Regional Australia Institute, RMIT University (2020) [Contract Report]

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The purpose of this work package is to investigate the core features of an analysis of work, jobs and employment in sub-national regions. This analysis is guided by the proposition is that a region’s prosperity and adaptability, as well as capacity to change is influenced and shaped by:

  • Economic structures, competitiveness and innovative capabilities of firms, and the relational linkages that define value chains across and beyond a region.
  • Workforce skills and entrepreneurial capacities
  • Regional governance arrangements and capacities for locally focused policy bodies to deploy resources and develop effective measures in relation to the regional economy (Martin, 2012: 13).

At the same time, there are changes taking place in relation to the patterns and trends in work more generally, and this shift has implications for available jobs and the employment patterns in a region.

The context for the analysis is that patterns of work, jobs and employment are changing, a subject of extensive debate (eg., Acemoglu and Restrepo, 2017; Spencer 2018; Warhurst and Hill 2019). These changes take place in the context of a history of relatively stable sets of employment relations, with a distribution of jobs that reflect these arrangements. This debate has relevance when discussing sub-national regions, particularly in relation to the spatial implications of transition from one set of arrangements to another.

One influential debate is about the future of work (eg., Stanford, 2020). This focus has addressed the remaking of work in the current moment. Three key points can be made. First, one set of themes address the ways in which technological innovation in the form of automation, machine work and artificial intelligence systems are or may shape work (West 2018; Furrer et al. 2018). A related aspect draws attention to the ways that digital technologies are being used in a range of ways to shape work, for example on-line platforms (Frey and Osborne, 2017). Second, there appears to be a major restructuring underway, so that the increase in jobs and employment tends to be in the service and information sectors and no longer in the production and resourcing of material goods (OECD, 2019a and 2019b). Third, there has been a major erosion of employment contracts that rest on a ‘standard employment relationship’ with the consequent development of precarious forms of employment (Standing, 2014). The challenge is to explain how such developments impact (as challenges and opportunities) on regional labour markets, drawing attention to jobs and employment relations (eg., Stewart and Stanford, 2017).

We use a political economy perspective on regional capacities to address jobs, work and employment. The focus is on the constellation of local employer capabilities, workforce capacities, government policies. Such an investigation includes a consideration of the ways in which different stakeholder groups within a region 2 pursue and promote specific policies and practices across a region (cf., Martin, 2012). Thus, the work package lays out the core dimensions of an analysis of work, jobs and employment in Australian regions.

Item Details

Item Type:Contract Report
Keywords:work, jobs, employment, regions, skills
Research Division:Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services
Research Group:Human resources and industrial relations
Research Field:Workforce planning
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Natural hazards
Objective Field:Climatological hazards (e.g. extreme temperatures, drought and wildfires)
UTAS Author:Fairbrother, P (Professor Peter Fairbrother)
ID Code:146196
Year Published:2020
Deposited By:Management
Deposited On:2021-08-24
Last Modified:2021-09-08

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